Tag Archive | Friends

Bonfire Of Promises 

On a night when some people celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes with celebrations and firework displays I take a slightly different look at bonfire night. I do this by  taking an alternative look  at the issues of austerity and the homelessness it can and does to lead to. In this poem I explain why I believe the I’m alright Jack mentality has resulted in a culture of apathy in which people are content for others to suffer so long as the suffering doesn’t reach their door and this allows the more reactionary Conservative forces within the UK establishment to have a bonfire of promises. It is with this in mind I have titled my poem Bonfire Of Promises I hope you enjoy the read. 

Bonfire Of Promises 

As I stand in the cold

watching fireworks explode

 a cavalcade of colours

light up the evening sky

like a rainbow

but with no pots of gold at the end

I am lucky when the evening concludes

I will return to the shelter of my flat

after time spent with friends

enjoying the warmth of their company

as the weather turns colder

I walk past a homeless girl

checking my pockets to see if change can be spared 

on this occasion only goodwill can be shared 

and that won’t fill empty stomachs

or remove hunger pains 

in a world where nobody listens

and politicians feed the public a diet of slogans 

designed to blame others for our problems

scapegoating is the road to ignorance

and acceptance of rules

made by others to tighten their grip 

on us and our circumstances

till we believe change is no longer possible

and as long as we’re alright everything is going to be fine 

all we need to do is shut the door

on the outside world

and pretend it doesn’t exist 

but there is a warning in my words 

if we do take this road it will be the vulnerable who suffer 

as we start to view minorities as others 

and allow governments to make

a bonfire of promises

 © Gayle Smith 2017

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The Chance To Be Me 

I wrote this poem yesterday for National Coming Out Day to give my view as to why a day I wish didn’t need to exist is still actually necessary.  This is day for taking steps and having that conversation you know the one you’ve wanted to have with a college. friend or family member but never quite got round to or maybe it’s about them saying to you it’s okay I’m on your side and dont worry everything’s going to be fine. After a lot of consideration I have decided to title this poem The Chance To Be Me as that is what coming out gives to so many people the chance to tell the world this is who I am . I hope you enjoy the read.

The Chance To Be Me 

On national coming out day 

no doubt some people will say 

why does it matter 

well let me explain 

coming out matters so that no one will ever need to be ashamed

of who they are or who they are attracted to 

but it’s political correctness gone mad 

or so we’re told by those who claim 

being LGBT is a lifestyle choice 

when we try to voice our concerns 

at this myth 

we are told to sit down , stay silent 

think ourselves lucky we are tolerated

we should be grateful for this 

but kissing our partners in public 

that’s not on nor will it ever be 

tabloid press and TV decide the way society is mirrored 

yet for so long we were only bit parts in the stories narrated through soaps and plays 

those days are the days some people yearn for 

ignoring the fact that many a secret was hidden behind the net curtains 

people were hurting unable to be who they were

ask yourself is that the kind of country you want to live in 

where people are labelled and suppressed

because of who they love.

or that some of us dress diffently 

from what’s considered normal

by those with the biggest stake in society 

who preach sobriety whilst living alternate realities

they have the wealth and means to disguise 

coming out matters because it puts an end 

to lying  just for the sake of others

it’s about discovering yourself 

and having the right to be who you really are. 

coming out means I can go to church

or walk in to that bar as the woman I am 

there is no longer a need to pretend

to be someone I’m not or never will be 

I am still the same person you’ve always known

 I still write poetry and hate snobbery and inequality in all forms 

do not be afraid to talk to me 

or ask any questions you feel you must 

trust me to be honest in my answers 

know that I will speak my truth and own it 

coming out as trans was the best thing I have ever done 

it was the moment I stopped running away from myself 

and admitted who I was, am, and ever shall be 

It gave me the chance to be me 

and that’s why on this day and every day 

coming out matters and it matters more than you think

© Gayle Smith 2017

Comfort Zone 

On day 21 of NaPoWriMo My poem  takes a look at the topic of Privacy. I do so with the issue of locality very much on my mind and that’s why I set it in the most personal places of all, well you can’t get more personal than your street and your home. It is for this  reason I’ve run with the title suggested by my Facebook friend Karen Campbell and titled it Comfort Zone I hope you enjoy the read. 
Comfort Zone 
It’s nice here 

I have nice friends

a nice home 

and a very nice life 

and believe me that is exactly how 

I want it to stay

nothing will take me from my comfort zone 

you see I give money 

to those less fortunate than myself 

I look after my health 

take care of myself 

I know it sounds so middle class

but I’m not I’m just cautious

I’ve always been honest 

maybe it’s because I’m single 

I may mix and mingle 

as much as anyone 

and believe me this girl 

has known how to have fun 

since before Cyndi Lauper hit the charts 

with the song that became an anthem 

but as a Cosmo girl I learned early 

to value my independence 

so when I shut the door behind me 

at the end of the night 

I like to keep myself right 

lock the door on the world 

and retreat to the space I call mine 

my home  is my comfort zone 

the place I can truly be me 

and have the privacy to freely 

express myself 

© Gayle Smith 2017 

When Company And Camaraderie Are Mixed With Compassion It Really Is Something To Celebrate. 

As regular readers will know I love a good night out so when I recently had the chance to attend two in the space of two days I grabbed both opportunities  and enjoyed two excellent evening of quality entertainment as a result  

The first of these events was my was on the Monday of that week when I made my long overdue debut at the Aloud spoken word night which is held in the salubrious surroundings of Jim’s Bar in Glasgow University’s Queen Margaret Union. As is often the case at spoken word events I performed a set of my poems but since this was my first time at Aloud I thought I would mix it up and include some trans related comedy. This was better received than I could have hoped for and gave me the encouragement I needed to develop it further through to be  honest I think the fact that it was a mainly female audience, helped considerably as they tended to understand why my material contained references to chocolate mammograms, and vibrators.

 The next night saw me change roles from performer to audience member as I attended a traditional music concert at the Star Club in the Admiral Bar in aid of The Beetson Cancer Charity which was organised by Eric Grant. Though these were very different nights I enjoyed them both very different reasons and have posted photographs from  each event to let you know why 

Picture (1) Is the first from Aloud which was celebrating its third birthday on the night I made my debut. As at all good parties the first person you see is the host and who better to host a party than the gabby , brilliant , and highly lovable Shannon McGregor. 

Picture (2) Shows the perfect party guest as Molly Frawley shares her considerable poetic talents with a crowd who were happy to listen to her words.

Picture (3) This is one party goer you’ll never find in the kitchen. Like myself , he prefers a stage to share his talents. He is Aloud regular and all round good guy Ross McFarlane 

Picture (4) Shows a picture of someone who is rapidly emerging as one of my favourite poets on the spoken word scene Jade Mitchell. Jade is an amazing talent who really speaks from the heart and her poem Girls is one of the poems I’ve heard for a very long time.  

Picture (5) Takes me from performer to audience member as I listen to the music at The Star Club. in the relaxed atmosphere of The Admiral Bar. The event which featured the superb vocal talents of father and daughter Eric and Eilidh Grant and many of their random connections of friends from the folk music community was organised by Eric on behalf the Beatson Cancer Charity. This shot shows one of those connections Dave Gibb belting out some songs to a highly appreciative audience. 

Picture (6) Shows Eric ,with Dave Gibb, and Fraser Speirs on tin whistle. 

Picture (7) Shows Eric and Eilidh doing what they do best and that of course, is sharing their music with those who want to hear it.  

Picture (8) Is the final picture of what was a highly enjoyable, and successful night raising over £2,000 for the Beetson thanks to Eric , Eilidh , and their random connections. It is on nights like this and indeed Aloud that we see the triumph of the human spirit at its finest. 

The fact I share this post in the light of the events of last Wednesday is no accident. I refuse to let circumstances no matter how challenging or adverse they may be, stop me from enjoying my life,and I believe this belief is shared by people throughout Scotland , Britain, and the world. You see, I was worried last Wednesday. I was worried for SNP MP’s who I as a party member know and call friends. I was worried for honourable members of all parties even those I profoundly disagree with. I was worried for the many poets, and performers I know who are based in London or call it home and yes I was relieved when one by one I heard on social media they were safe.  However, as the photographs in this,post show, I celebrate my life with every day I’m given. I cherish the friendships I’ve made and every experience I’ve has helped to shape the woman I’ve become and believe me that is a woman who enjoys mixing and mingling with others. Yes I really like people, and it’s occasions like these with friends and good companions that remind me why.  

On two successive nights and in two very different capacities I shared company and camaraderie and when that is mixed with compassion we see the very best of humanity and that really is something to celebrate 

Love And Best Wishes.

Gayle X 

The Coldest Season 

On day 10 of Blogmas I share a poem where I look at the the commercial side of our so-called festive season and why when we are wandering round the shops we should stop for a moment and think on others who may not be as fortunate as we are and what if anything we can do to help those abandoned by a society which is becoming more individualistic by the day as Conservative values take hold of western democracies and demonise those in need of genuine help I’ve given it the title The Coldest season I hope enjoy the read.

The Coldest Season

Winter, the coldest season 

where those discarded by a society 

in which winner takes all 

are refused access to the festive cheer 

whilst the rest of us spend 

more than we can afford 

on relatives we’ve ignored 

since last Christmas when we had that argument 

and brought up things best left unsaid 

or if we’re still not talking to them 

we’ll spend  our cash on  new friends 

get in to more debt that a small country 

all because that advert was lovely 

and filled us with the joys of the season 

it is after all time for glad tidings

silver linings of comfort and joy 

we’ll be in good voice singing carols 

at the church we attend once a year 

It’s Santa not Jesus in whom we place our trust 

to meet our needs in the season of goodwill 

but what about the old, the homeless, the ill

thrown to the wolves so others can jingle tills 

in the name of profit 

 of which they will see just enough 

to pay the bills and not a penny extra

this is the not so secret agenda 

of those who would kill the Christmas spirit 

by taking others to the brink

watching them sink from a world 

so immune to their pain 

we don’t see the irony 

when we hurry through shopping malls 

in this the coldest season of the year 

and the song we hear is do they know it’s Christmas. 

@ Gayle Smith 2016 

The Day I Stopped Protesting And Admitted I Was One Of The Girls I Had To Tell The World My Truth And Fly My Flag With Pride

Hey Readers.

You can always trust the Huffington Post to make you think before breakfast. Yes even on a Sunday morning this still holds true and on this Sunday morning I couldn’t help but notice one particular story in my favourite online journal which just screamed read me.
So you will not be surprised to know that is exactly what I did .

The story concerned research carried out in to homophobia at three separate universities in Germany, the United States, and Essex which suggest that this fear and loathing of being gay or though they don’t mention it lesbian, or trans may be due to those concerned having same sex attraction themselves.

Now I can almost bet there will be a number of testosterone fuelled homophobic males who on
being told this information will no doubt be muttering aye that’ll be right under their breath, however on closer examination this information should come as no surprise to anyone and it certainty doesn’t come as a shock to me.

The picture below shows the rainbow flag flying at half mast from Glasgow City Chambers on the night when our city held a vigil to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre. Far be it for to suggest that this image could be a metaphor for some people to take a far closer look at themselves than perhaps they’ve been used to but believe me someone has to do as it and as a transsexual woman who comes under the LGBTIQ umbrella I feel I am in a stronger position than most to make the case.

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I state this point because as someone who is very much in the rainbow rather than over it, I can say both with pride and at pride that I am not only a friend of Dorothy I’m one of her besties. This however was not always the case, for more years than I care to remember I attempted to live a lie. I tried as hard to fit the traditional male stereotype and where I grew up part of that involved being homophobic in public when in the company of male friends and acquaintances.

The fact that in my private time I was  dressing as a girl and longing for the day when I could be the woman I secretly knew myself to be was according to the world around neither here nor there and fact my mother knew about my secret was written off as just one of those things. You see according to our very uptight society that was Scotland/Britain in the 1970’s, this kind of behaviour was always written off as just a passing phase even though I know nothing could be further from the truth.

Believe me I hated being homophobic in any way shape or form. I knew what I was saying was wrong not just about the individuals concerned but about myself you see I  knew I could never be a straight man or any other kind of man for that matter I knew with every ounce of my being that I wanted and needed to be a woman before I would ever be truly happy and at ease with myself.

In the Glasgow of the 1970’s  I was trans before most people had ever heard of it. To deny this may have been the safer choice at the time but it was also mind numbingly claustrophobic as I was having to deny myself the right to be who I was.  Well how many straight boys do you know who would be a member of the Osmond’s Fan Club and have pictures of Donny all over their bedroom wall and then move on to The Bay City Rollers,  collecting
copies of  Jackie every week and having secret outfits up to and including lingerie. Though I don’t think I had a dress far less lingerie as glamorous as those in the pictures below. I don’t think my mother would ever have let me be so daring no matter how much I may have wanted to be.

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So as you can see, my homophobic language was due to the institutionalised homophobia of the state and the internalised homophobia/transphobia which can only come from fighting a war against your natural instincts. You see I’ve always liked my men and now living as the woman I’ve always known I was I am in no mood to deny it. However growing up in a more socially and culturally conservative country, and that can apply to both Scotland and Britain did have an impact on how I viewed others and when you are encouraged to see difference as being negative through the press and media it should surprise no one that you perceive people in this way and develop the notion of other. Believe me when I say your teenage years are not called your formative years for no reason.

Fortunately, the world has come a long way since the days of my 1970’s youth and now members of the LGBTIQ community have the same rights as our straight sisters and brothers we can even get legally married should we find Prince or Princess Charming, and this generation of trans teens can leave school on the Friday afternoon in their birth gender and return on Monday morning in their acquired one. How I wish I had been given that chance when I was in my teens because believe me I would have grabbed it with both hands.

Alas however that was for a future generation rather than mine. The world of 1970’s Scotland was shall we say a lot more prejudiced and narrow minded than is the case now and far less rainbow friendly. Most people I knew growing up would refuse to acknowledge that they had ever known a gay man, far less a lesbian or trans person and would probably say that it was restricted to showbiz types. This is a world away from the self confident Scotland of 2016 with rainbow flags and pride marches in all our major towns and cities and yet there are still some people who would sooner hide their true selves than attempt to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity.

Speaking as someone who has had to overcome her own barriers with regards to this issue I can understand all too clearly why certain individuals may wish to conceal their real feelings. One reason could be that they were brought up in a religious family and don’t think they would be able to come out to family and friends. Another issue often used by those who indulge in homophobic behaviour is that they don’t want to be a disappointment to their parents and the wider community and fear a loss of respect amongst their peers. There could also be other factors at play which are too many and varied to go in to and I can totally appreciate that I know how difficult it was for me but to me when the choice comes down to living a lie or a happy and rewarding life there is in end no other choice to make.

Speaking as someone who has come out as a trans woman I know the journey is not an easy one but believe me it is easily the best decision I have ever made. I say this because I know the improvement it has made to my quality of life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. You see I know how much I’ve grown in confidence since I finally made the change and decided to transition and live my life as the woman I had always known I was. It was the perfect way to celebrate my 47th Christmas in December 2008 and every day thereafter by giving myself the one present no amount of money could buy. That present was the right to be me.

Now the shrewd amongst you will have noticed that I’ve kinda given my age away in that last paragraph. Well I am 55 tomorrow and believe me this woman is having more fun in my mid fifties than I did in my teens and early twenties. Well it has often been said that a woman is like a good wine she matures with age and I hope I may be proof of that saying.

I make no secret I am enjoying my womanhood, I’ve waited a long time to live my life as my true self so you can be sure I’ll be making the most of every chance I get to be the best I can be. The reason I mention my age is to illustrate that many trans people and particularly trans women wait a long time before finally coming out and that is to a large extent due to the added pressures society puts on us to fit in their nice binary gender norm. Eventually however there comes a point when you realise you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole because try as you might it doesn’t work, it never has and it never will. It is when that realisation finally dawns you know you have to be yourself. You see despite all your protests that this can’t possibly be you deep down you realise that you can’t fight your nature and begin to learn the truth of the old Shakespeare quote which I will paraphrase by saying methinks thou doth protest too much and it finally dawns on you that only one you’re fooling is yourself. You see if there is one thing we are loathe to admit it’s the fact that our real friends know a lot more than we ever give them credit for.

It has to be said that any coming out or transitioning will have risks and you may lose some friends and family along the way. As for my own experience I have been reasonably fortunate and though I have lost contact with a small number of people who for reasons best known to them have been unable to cope with my transition I have actually gained more friends than I’ve lost since making the change. As for which friends will stay with you and who will walk away let’s just say that though I could have called it right about 90 percent of the time there were a few surprises on both sides which are best summed up by these words from one of my favourite songs and that of course is Caledonia. ‘ l lost some friends I needed losing, found others on the way ‘.

So to anyone who is trapped in the cycle of internalised oppression my advice would be simple get yourself down to your local rainbow friendly bar and enjoy yourselves. You never know you might just like it more than you think. Well I’m sure many of you will have heard of the well known rap star Eminem. This was a man whose lyrics to some of his raps were so homophobic that many people including myself called on him to be banned from Britain. That however is in the past and the man who was also known as the real slim shady is out and proud and identifies as a gay man. So if Eminem can come out and be honest with himself believe me anybody can.

So broadly speaking I agree with the findings of the research and I do that to some extent at least those who shout the loudest are more often than not the ones in the largest closets. Now it is true to say that there will be exceptions to the rule, but I have always believed that who protest too much have usually got something to hide.

So you’re still insisting you’re straight are you? if you are then maybe it’s time to go to the mirror and take a long hard look at yourself. I remember the night i did. I knew straight away I was a woman whose time had come. You see I realised that the day I stopped protesting and admitted I was one of the girls I had to tell the world my truth and fly my flag with pride.

Love And Best Wishes
Gayle X

Driving Instructor

Hey Readers This morning I along with fellow neighbours and friends attended St Mungo’s Roman Catholic Church in Townhead for the funeral of our much loved and respected neighbour Ed Cullen who went to his eternal rest earlier this month. I hope the family will be comforted to know that many people will miss Ed for the humour and humility he brought to our lives. I have titled this poem Driving Instructor as that was how Ed earned his crust. I hope you enjoy the read.

Driving Instructor

The news of his death came as a shock
to neighbours and friends
the driving instructor had reached
the end of his journey
as we gathered at the church
he had attended from
childhood 
and been part of all the days
of his life
the priest spoke with affection
of the quiet man with the dry wit
and kind heart
my next door neighbour
he was the man across the landing
he showed understanding to me
when I needed it most
never one to boast
God knew him better than I
a faithful follower who lived
by the book
I was told of his willingness to help others
I was not surprised at this
he had assisted me
on more than one occasion
over the years
yes I shed a few tears
but the rain came down at night  in private moments
not in the church
or at the graveside
for others to see
he would appreciate that
the quiet man with the kind heart
the driving instructor
had parked the car
he had reached his destination

@ Gayle Smith 2016